OPINION: A mistress at government expense?

Buddy Gomez

Posted at Mar 31 2017 01:12 AM

An apt sub-title to this blog would have been: The hypocrisy of Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez is in full bloom! But we are getting ahead of the story.

We are now being regaled with a side show, a distraction in national politics. It is not true, however, that this distraction is a Malacanang artifice intended to deflect away all international and domestic criticisms of widespread bloodletting, of human rights abuses augmented by the increasing clamor about continuing corruption in the new administration and its display of many-faceted incompetence. All these would have been ample reason for a vain attempt at political legerdemain--a manipulated distraction, as it were--as a substitute to just burying one’s head in the sand. This scandal seems to simply have come out of the blue, without public coaxing! And as we meet our deadline, it may have already acquired a life of its own. There has got to be consequences!

Most of us already know that the injury to the nation’s reputation and internal well-being is, as a matter of indisputable fact, ever so blatantly self-inflicted. That is now an accepted given. The culprit is none other than our foul-mouthed minority President whose managerial ineptitude he has all by himself began to unveil.

'BEBOT VERSUS TONYBOY' 

The Speaker of the House, Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez billing himself as a paragon of public morality is pursuing legal action against Congressman Antonio “Tonyboy” Floirendo, Jr. for graft and corruption over a very long-standing joint venture contract the latter’s family has with the Bureau of Corrections covering the lease of land for the Floirendo banana plantation. 

While the country is approaching pariah status, these two top political players from the President’s own hometown team (Davao del Norte Congressional districts) are engaged in an apparent internecine squabble involving one’s self-avowed rectitude and the other’s supposed criminal malfeasance. 

Behind the curtains and billed as “tip of the iceberg” however, the matchstick that lit the kindle was a shouting match between the mistress of one and the common-law wife of the other, the former being the alleged aggressor. This happened sometime in October during a festival in Bacolod City where the dramatis personae were all guests. 

Actually, there is still much murk in this developing story. But we can always enjoy some gossip, can’t we? 

Congressman Floirendo is known to have been long estranged from his beauty queen-wife (Margie Moran-Miss Universe/1973). His constant companion, now referred to as either his common-law wife or long-time live-in partner is Cathy Binag. 

Reports sourced from Ms. Binag herself, say that the wife of Speaker Alvarez (nee Emelita Apostol) would normally come to the Floirendos for succor and shoulders to cry on whenever family problems arose from Alvarez’ ‘womanizing.’ Evidently, they are or were close family friends. Might it be possible that Alvarez regards the Floirendos’ solicitude for Alvarez’s wife an unwelcome and irritating interference that has crossed the sensitivity of his “girlfriend” or “mistress?” Love and libido must figure in this, somewhere!

A few days ago, some media outlet named the Alvarez girlfriend but the name is nowhere to be found. It has been reported that Speaker Alvarez has contacted some newspaper outlets to give “his side” of the squabble, advancing that his girlfriend’s public spat with Cathy is completely different from the Ombudsman case against Floirendo. It is possible that Alvarez wished for his girlfriend’s name remain unmentioned. In this town? Is there some meaning to that gesture? Instinct to protect a loved one? 

(In time for our deadline, the Philippine Daily Inquirer updated the Alvarez story, now naming his girlfriend. Jennifer Maliwanag Vicencio.)

Apparently, it is of common knowledge that the Alvarez girlfriend is regarded as his ‘mistress,’ whatever that connotes. And she travels with the Speaker during official engagements, even as part of the Presidential entourage, reportedly, during a State visit. Some wags say that she is also introduced as a “pamangkin” (a niece!) 

GMA News reports that the incumbent (?) Mrs. Alvarez is the second wife of Speaker Alvarez. (“…ikalawang asawa naman ni Alvarez si Emelita Apostol…”) We do not know very much about Alvarez. What if the GMA report were true? That would make Alvarez a widower before Emelita came into his life. If not, what was the nature of his partnership with his “first wife?” Where is she and who is she? Might Alvarez be a bigamist? By all means, this requires unequivocal clarification. 

And before I forget, maintaining a “girlfriend” entails expense. It is not a matter of how generously or niggardly public funds may have been expended for, with and on behalf of a mistress. Amounts could easily be lost in liquidation accounting whether these were cash advances or even “discretionary expenses.” Is the Speaker (and some of his Congressional cohorts) expending people’s tax money for the satisfaction of their “libidinal proclivities?”
 
Now that the Speaker has confessed to having extra-marital relations, there will have to be many fair questions that require truthful answers. Consequences?

Do we not remember only too well that Speaker Alvarez presided over and orchestrated the public humiliation and vilification, the slut shaming of Senator Leila de Lima? It seems to me that hypocrisy begins to sound kind and tame as we come to know more about Mr. Alvarez! 

AN AMERICAN TEACHABLE EXAMPLE

Here is a source of useful edification, a point of reference from another House of Representatives. The one in the U.S. after which ours is patterned. Mortals that they also are, they do conduct and handle ethical and moral lapses rather differently. In fact, quite honorably. And therefore, admirably.

When Speaker Newt Gingrich lost the Speakership in 1998, his replacement would have been the Congressman from Louisiana, another staunch and popular Republican, Bob Livingstone. Livingstone was already hailed as the Speaker-designate after declaring that he was going to contest the Speakership. Victory, indeed, was at hand. 

Then, he made a stunning announcement. He was not only declining the Speakership but altogether resigning from Congress. He confessed that after a very heartfelt afterthought, in consultation with his wife, he must decline the Speakership. 

“…..Past extramarital affairs,” ”a controversy over his sexual past (with an intern) would undercut his power” and “I cannot do the job and be the kind of leader under those circumstances.”

And as Livingstone strode away from the rostrum, from both sides of the aisle, a rousing standing ovation!

For you, Mr. Alvarez, I foresee well-earned damnation! The long 
arm of Karma is now reaching out!

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.